|Lovely photo but what IS the cake?|
When R.E.M wrote their hit Everybody Hurts they could equally have called it everybody cooks
judging by the amount of celebrity cook books on the market. This market never appears to reach saturation point. Any visit to a book shop is proof of this.
All of these cookbooks have one thing in common - stunning, highly stylized photography. Yes, the food is photographed, but it is in a setting with ribbons, roses and artfully placed props in the frame. Does it actually show you the food or the finished dish? Invariably not or if it does, it does so in soft focus.
I love food and I love cooking and baking but these cookbooks do nothing for me? I have a few of them, mostly given to me as gifts. They line a bookcase in my kitchen attracting grease and dust, never admiring glances. Sometimes I try to find the information I require but more often than not I fail. Instead I prop up my laptop on the work surface and find what I require on the internet or revert to my tried and trustable old favourites.
|Ingredients and equipment |
When I use a recipe, I use it as a guideline only, very often substituting ingredients and changing quantities depending on what's available. I always like to see how the finished product is supposed to look. For baking this means the texture, the bake, the finish. For a dish, the consistency - is the sauce thick or thin, what the balance is between meat and vegetables. A picture of the ingredients or the equipment necessary can be useful or step by step photos of the methods used.
Two of my old trustables were published over forty years ago and I still frequently use and reference them. One has no photos just some little ink sketches, the other has a few photos. Both use imperial measures. The recipes always work and I wonder is this because they were written by cooks who knew what they were talking about.
I wish publishers would start to publish cook books again, written by real cooks and not celebrity chefs,
and I use the word chef in the loosest sense of the word. Many of these so called chefs would run screaming out of a professional kitchen. I yearn for a real book written by a real cook and not a celebrity famous for what they look like or who their spouse is.